Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

Church

Creating Bonds in the Body

There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. – (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

 

First and foremost, we are called to be a part of the body of Christ. We were created for relationship with God and with people. His intention was not for us to hide out with a few fellow like-minded souls for His sake, but rather to invest in the bigger body of Christ. We are called to contribute the gifts that He has placed in each of us, and to love and care for one another, despite our differences. Our hearts ought to celebrate the strengths of our sisters and brothers, not become points of envy nor contention. When someone is suffering, we are invited to walk beside them and extend our strength and support, and as one is honored, we are meant to rise up and rejoice alongside them in their accomplishments. Unity in the body comes as we live life together – in sorrow and in celebration. As we are able to be real with one another, we are creating bonds in the body as Christ intended. May we go forth this day in faith, with genuine concern for the body of believers around us. Let our hearts be united in purpose as we seek to serve Him well.

 

Let not division,Creating Bonds in the Body

find way enter in;

for though we’re many,

we are all for Him.

No gift is greater,

but all are the same;

granted by Jesus,

to spread His great Name.

Build up the body,

united in Him;

grieve when there’s mourning,

rejoice when they win.

Walk with each other,

united in love;

as God intended,

our hope from above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us with different gifts for different roles to build Your church. Thank You that no role nor gift is greater than another in Your eyes. Thank You that You ask us to love one another the same – to suffer with the suffering and to rejoice with those who are honored. Forgive us for seeing ourselves as less than or greater than we ought to, and help us to focus all of our attention on what we can accomplish for You and in You, rather than anything that is focused on self. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may operate in the light of Your love. Lead us to love well, so that we may invest in the lives of those around us. Show us how we are to grieve with those in mourning and celebrate with those who are rejoicing. May many come into a saving relationship with You as we seek to honor You in all that we say and do. Be glorified, O God, as we live and love as Your body of believers. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3



What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story? Yesterday, as we gathered together for our Sunday service, that was the morning’s topic. The question was not posed in a typical sermon format, but rather our pastor had several different people from our church come forward and share part of their own story. About six months ago, just as we began the new year, we invested together in a series called Into the Wild. The premise of the series was all about how we are called on a journey, and as we journey it is wild, but we have His promises and His presence as we go. Each person who shared their story, spoke of a portion of the adventure God had been taking them on over the past many months. All had the common thread of His promise and His presence that they held onto, even when the path before them seemed to be unmarked, and the ground unstable. Each one, was evidence of His faithfulness, as they had walked in obedience where they had been called.

 

This morning, I caught a glimpse of the bulletin. There in the top row, sits my smiling face, waiting to tell a story. At first, I kind of complained to the Lord, as I do not have as concrete of a path as some of the stories told yesterday. The gentle nudge did not let up, so I shall attempt to speak of the story He has been writing in me, as I have willingly walked into the wild…

 

By nature, I am an introvert. To those who know me, this is no great surprise, especially if observed in a large group. Also, as a result of both environment and of choice, I had become a very closed individual emotionally, and was unwilling to allow others to see past the smile. “The Wild” for me, has been a journey of learning to be vulnerable with trustworthy individuals. Willingness to share my heart, my thoughts, my fears, my hopes – without reservation, has been both a foreign and freeing phenomenon. Though I have in no way “arrived“, there is a visible change in my willingness to be “real” with those whom I trust, and I find myself opening my heart to more people than I ever thought I would. I know that I am still wandering in this portion of wilderness, yet He is with me, leading me, guiding me, and holding my hand as I travel in trust. Greater things are yet to come, and I look forward to all that He has for me – for all of us.

 

You will be His witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. – (Acts 22:15)

 

We are His, and no one can dispute what He has done in our lives, personally. Our story, is ours. He uses what we are willing to offer. May we be His mouthpiece to touch lives and transform communities.

 

What is your story?

What has Jesus done?

The trials you’ve faced,

the battles you’ve won?

Where have you wandered?

Where has your heart been?

Has He brought you through,

time and time again?

Think of the little,

as well as the large;Your Story

He’s ever present,

wherever you are.

Every aspect,

of each of our lives;

matter to Jesus,

that is why He died.

He willingly took,

every stain and scar;

so as we journey,

we’ll know Whose we are.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that each of us has a story. Thank You that our story is not a quick read, but rather one with many chapters. Thank You that our adventure into the wild does not end when You walk us through a challenging season, but rather, You call us to adventure with You our entire lives. Thank You that You are always present, and that You promise to never leave us nor forsake us. Forgive us for our fearfulness as we step out into the unknown. Make us courageous and strong to trust You in all things and at all times. Help us to clearly hear Your voice, so that we know which way we are meant to travel. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, as we live and love as an obedient offering. Be exalted, O God, through the story You are writing on our hearts. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

 

 


One Body in Christ

The congregation of the church works as separate members but all too often forget that they exist as one body and need each other. The Pastor often is the heart of the church, although sometimes there is another who functions in that place. If the heart is damaged or diseased it affects the whole of the body. If it is healthy it circulates well and the gospel and intent of the church are usually healthy as well. But when there is disease in part of the body and it is not treated, eventually in spreads to the whole and can easily kill it. We know that when we have a diseased limb and it can’t be saved, it must be removed, but do we consider the church the same way? Or do we just accept the diseased portion because it adds to the whole?

1 Corinthians 12

King James Version (KJV)

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

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A Wake-Up Call for Christians

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‘Complete Anarchy’: Famed Pastor Issues Major Wake-Up Call for Christians About the Dire State of American Culture

TheBlaze’s Carly Hoilman contributed to this report.

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wa., is on a mission to wake Christians up from the illusion that faith is alive and well in America.

The centerpiece of Driscoll’s new book titled, ”A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?,” is that we’re living in a “post-Christian culture — a culture fundamentally at odds with faith in Jesus.”

Culture Is Quickly Shifting

The pastor recently told TheBlaze that he believes cultural norms are rapidly shifting in American society and that these changes come at the same time that Christianity is losing its place of prominence.

Mark Driscoll Issues Major Wake Up Call for Christians About the Dire State of American Culture | A Call to Resurgence

Pastor Mark Driscoll (Image source: @PastorMark onTwitter)

“A commitment to secularism to pluralism has really come very, very rapidly, and certain issues like gay marriage have accelerated and highlighted that,” Driscoll said. “More biblical, conservative traditions…values have gone from being respected to really despised in very short order.”

Driscoll explained that 40 years ago, homosexuality was still listed in psychological manuals and textbooks as a mental disorder, and now it is considered a civil right. He added, “That’s a quick flip.”

“We are living in a post-Christian culture — a culture fundamentally at odds with faith in Jesus.”

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He believes that there’s been a paradigm shift in society from “morality to personality.”

Rather than moral absolutes governing what’s right or wrong, Driscoll said that there’s a general view that people should be true to themselves — that they should essentially stand by their feelings and desires.

“We’ve shifted from a worldview where there is a God who makes laws, and they apply to you, to whether or not there is a God it does not matter — ‘I don’t recognize any laws external to me. The only thing that guides me is my own internal convictions,’” he said. “Authority has shifted from external to internal, from God to me. And what you end up with is not a discussion of morality but a defense of personality. And that’s the world we live in.”

Driscoll believes that there is “a culture of complete anarchy in the name of tolerance and diversity.”

“One in four women sexual assaulted, one in six men, people that are sexually addicted, sexually assaulted, sexually abused, rampant debt, broken families, suicidal,” he told TheBlaze. “The number one category of prescription medication is antidepressants. Somebody’s gotta stand up and say, ‘This ain’t working — we gotta try something else.’”

One of the Big Questions Facing Christians

One of the big questions facing Christians, the pastor said, is how to peacefully exist in this context of change without compromising values and theology.

“Christians need to understand that Christians and non-Christians just disagree about a lot of things,” he said. “We disagree about where we come from, we disagree about why we’re here, we disagree about what we’re supposed to do, we disagree with what we’re supposed to do with our pots and our pans and our genitals and our wallets — we just disagree on all kinds of things.”

Mark Driscoll Issues Major Wake Up Call for Christians About the Dire State of American Culture | A Call to Resurgence

Credit: Tyndale House Publishers

Driscoll went on to say that one of the biggest threats to Christians is the assumption that compromising on what they believe will help them or serve a positive purpose for the non-believers they interact with. Doing this, he said, simply doesn’t work for anyone

With the changing cultural dynamics, Driscoll warned that Christians need to start getting better at understanding suffering and dealing with pushback, as they’re poised to receive more of it.

“In the West we’re not really familiar with suffering [and] Christendom and Christians have tended to be in a position of power, a respected position, and so all the issues surrounding suffering and criticism and such — we’re not very good at that,” he said. “And it’s something we’d better get better at pretty quickly because it’s just going to get harder to stay true to what we believe.”

Driscoll said that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to be Bible-believing — and practicing — Christians and that there are “no social perks to being a Christian” in today’s society.

Issues Facing Churches

The decreasing role and reverence for churches is also noticeable, Driscoll said. While houses or worship were once much-respected, today he believes that this dynamic has profoundly changed.

“The churches, for the most part, held a very respected place in society — and if you’re going to be a good business leader, a good citizen, a moral person, well obviously you believe in God and you’re involved in some religious community,” he said. “So what that led to was really a lot of people who weren’t committed to their religious beliefs — they didn’t really live them out — but they would sort of wave the flag because of the social benefits that came with it.”

Driscoll believes the social benefits and connotations the church once offered are decreasing. Being ostracized or marginalized for being in the pews makes it somewhat less appealing to participate in church. While he doesn’t necessarily believe that there are fewer Christians, he said “the teams have gotten very clear.”

“Somebody’s gotta stand up and say, ‘This ain’t working — we gotta try something else.’”

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Fewer of those who went or go to church mainly to bask in these benefits are now doing so and for obvious reasons; the purported benefits are diminishing.

With the changing dynamics, Christians have to find a balance, Driscoll argued. What battles will they choose to fight? Which will they choose to ignore? Of these concerns, Driscoll said, ”You can’t fight over everything, and you’re not very courageous if you won’t fight for anything.”

The pastor said it’s important to decide what’s worth fighting for and then to be prepared to deal with the consequences of speaking out.

Driscoll expounds upon these themes in “A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/11/12/a-culture-of-complete-anarchy-famed-pastor-issues-major-wake-up-call-for-christians-about-the-dire-state-of-american-culture/

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Signs and Wonders

 By Kerry Mauldin
Wonderful day with no rain and many dedications!!
At Uttlapalli Village, we dedicate church given by Vinita AG.  Here last year we baptized in 55 gallon drum behind a tarp because hindus were upset.  We gave to start church and it now runs over 50 adults and 40 children and growing weekly.
One crippled girl from birth, 4 weeks ago can now walk.
We prayed for infilling of Holy Spirit and heaven was so real and a couple got their heavenly language.  Gave matching gift to put stone floor and extend the church–no more room…
Srinivas Nagar–we dedicate well, Melody gave in memory of her late husband who passed 7 years ago.  It has sweet water and 40 church members and all neighbors were so thankful.  One pump of handle and water comes!!
Narsapuram–so truly blessed me!!  This church built by Tula Rosa NM and well by the Haymes family, has grown from 50 to 70 with added 50 children.  This is an alive church.
last year we prayed for a boy Krishnan, 18, who was born deaf-mute.
I had forgotten, but his father Hamu Niak, a stone polisher, brought him up and both were so so excited.  They shared how after the prayer last year—now Krishnan can hear and speak.  He had such a huge smile as he told his name, what village he is from, his fathers name …  PRAISE THE LORD!
Last year, his father pledged to do marble floors stones in the church and it is beautiful job as a stone polisher…
In the churches where God is showing signs and wonders–which are so many churches, they are growing much.
In Keshavapuram, we dedicated a church and plaque given in memory of Judy Henry of Muscogee-a friend who so encouraged and prayed and is now with the Lord!
Nice church that we gave today for flooring etc.
One woman was one of many who stood and told of God’s grace and love.
She was some 55 and a widow since age 26.  She shared she was widowed and both of her daughters husbands also had passed and they were widows…
She shared how now she has no debt and God is taking care in spite of all the challenges…she set down.
I asked:  “sister, is your name Naomi?”  All said, “YES, that is her name.”
I am so thankful for God’s goodness and grace.  He does do miracles and so so many are testified about in everyday here:TB, leprosy, deaf-mute, babies given etc…
He sees us thru daily and keeps us covered in blessing and protection!!
Just crossing many rivers the past week with so many low water “bridges”? has been so challenging with so many bridges washed out and bumper deep waters… having to throw stones in holes on bridges to make it across…  HE PROTECTS and does “Signs and Wonders”!!
Thanks for your prayers!!  2 more days in villages…
Kerry, Melody, Jim and Joshua
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Heart Prepped and Ready…

By Kerry Mauldin
Just 3 days left in the villages and much has been accomplished by Gods grace.
It is truly amazing what all can be done when God gives favor and wisdom and we choose to walk in it.
 
One lesson really jumped out at me today:
 
We went to Lakkavaram Village and people were sitting on a tarp on thefoundation 20×40 of where they want a church.  We are went to houses and streets and compelled people to come and hear the story…
70 adults go to the church and 50 kids.  They have been meeting under the trees and want a nice church.
We sang and Jim shared, I taught on giving and they began to give 224,000 rs and we matched 100,000 to build the church.
These people were just concluding a 40 day fasting prayer for the church and their hearts were ready and we also blessed with what they need to get church built!
Their hearts were so prepared!!
 
Went to dedicate church in Kothagudem.”New Village”–the church was painted a pretty.  Pastor had come last Feb and cried out for help.  We taught him and put rupees in his hand as a test that he would teach his people.  We drove far today and only 3 of his 40 members were there, besides a lot of kids and others we compelled to come.
Pastor shared he had borrowed 60,000rs to complete the church at 24% interest and the people had given nothing… He wanted us to help him.
I had to correct and rebuke him.  He failed the test in that he did not teach the people, but made excuses for them and then borrowed the money.  Also, with us coming, only 3 show up…
We told him we would come again in Feb. if he would get his people there and teach them.
What a difference preparation in a village makes!
 
Last, in Mellacherlu “Many Lakes Village”–35 met in small 12×15 room.
They have land and want a 20×40 Prayer Shed and need 60,000rs.
We ate lunch and taught them.  Meeting here 5 years, they have their goal low.
They want shed with no walls and will add walls later.
We matched 1 rupee for each 2 they gave, but if they raised more and stepped out, I felt impressed to help more.
They raised 41,000 and we added 20,000 so they can build exactly what they expressed.
I hoped their faith would step up, but they did not over extend themselves.  “This is first church we have built and are not sure how to go about it”, they shared!!
 
Lord that we set our vision high enough, prepare our hearts and walk in Your wisdom and guidance!!
 
Your prayers have been so greatly appreciated and have born fruit!!  Thanks so so much!!
 
Melody, Kerry, Jim and Joshua!!
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